The Dallas, Texas, criminal trial of Amber Guyger — an off-duty police officer who entered the wrong apartment, believing it to be her own, and killed Botham Jean — has garnered national attention in a case of a white police officer using lethal force against an unarmed Black man in his own apartment.
However, just last week, another trial was taking place against former FBI agent John Guandolo less than a mile away in Dallas revealing the toxic, systemic indoctrination of racism within the law enforcement community that received almost no attention.
During Guandolo’s civil assault trial, retired police officer and terrorism liaison Stephanie Ameiss expressed personal views similar to the white supremacist groups that the Gilbert Police Department assigned her to investigate as an undercover agent. Ameiss testified that Islam is not a religion, and by extension, Muslims are not entitled to freedom of religion under the Constitution.
Ameiss’s current employer, Understanding the Threat (UTT), was founded by Guandolo and makes thousands of dollars providing training to law enforcement nationwide, which consists of little more than conspiracy theories about a looming and ever-present “Muslim threat.”
Widely discredited as a conspiracy theorist, Guandolo has accused President Obama of treason and called former CIA Director John Brennan a “secret Muslim.” While Guandolo touts his service to the FBI, he resigned from the agency under scandal as a result of several sexual affairs with other agents as well as with Lori Mody, a material cooperating witness in a Department of Justice prosecution. He also solicited a $75,000 donation to an “anti-terrorism” organization from Mody while employed as an FBI agent.
Last year, Guandolo taught a group of police officers in San Angelo, Texas, that Muslim leaders are “obliged to lie to [them],” and that Muslim houses of worship are where Muslims “plan battles.” He further claims that Muslims are purchasing gas stations and working in the hotel industry to lay the foundation for waging “a jihad in the United States.”
In Ameiss’s home state of Arizona, Guandolo offered a three-day seminar entitled “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network” to law enforcement — a cash cow netting him $11,000. Apparently, peddling conspiracy theories is a lucrative business.
These far-fetched conspiracy theories are at the center of a seemingly unrelated civil assault case in which Guandolo is the defendant. Guandolo claims that the lawsuit is “Lawfare, a jihadi specialty,” which he defines as “the use of litigation to suppress truth.” Testimony at trial provides a different picture.
In 2017, Guandolo dispersed materials at the National Sheriff’s Association Conference in Nevada and provided a two-hour training session to attendees to “identify” the so-called Muslim threat. The materials included a letter containing the Sheriff’s Association’s endorsement of UTT.
Minneapolis Sheriff Richard Stanek discovered the letter and asked then-Sheriff’s Association President Greg Champagne to retract the endorsement on the grounds that UTT was profiteering off of anti-Muslim propaganda and training law enforcement to do the same. In 2016, Guandolo published an article on his website claiming that Stanek’s office was working with jihadis.
Champagne did, in fact, revoke his prior endorsement. An angered Guandolo confronted Stanek at the convention, and when Stanek attempted to leave, Guandolo punched Stanek in the face.
Guandolo’s assault is yet another example of a violent white supremacist ideology that furthers systemic inequalities by law enforcement toward disenfranchised and marginalized minorities. Law enforcement organizations nationwide are being indoctrinated by a radical and racist dogma.
It’s no surprise that Guandolo doesn’t limit discrimination to Muslims. He has expressed doubt concerning the existence of systemic racism targeting African Americans and has labeled Black Lives Matter (BLM) a Marxist organization. His seminars teach law enforcement to recognize BLM as a threat to national security, and he’s publicly stated that there will be “dozens of jihadis doing multiple operations in conjunction with the Marxist and socialist groups like Black Lives Matter, which will be, you know, burning and looting cities like they did in Ferguson and Baltimore.”
These conspiracy theories carry dangerous ramifications for communities of color at the receiving end of Guandolo’s law enforcement training.
Attempting to obstruct a marginalized community’s access to the civil rights and social justice advocacy groups that protect them comes straight from the white supremacist McCarthy-era playbook that Guandolo has resurrected and repurposed. It’s no surprise, therefore, that he holds a special disdain for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, which he claims is nothing more than a front for Hamas. Further, Guandolo testified during trial, “BLM works with Hamas, which is doing business as CAIR.”
This month alone, CAIR attorneys secured a landmark decision in federal court that the FBI watchlist containing more than 1 million “known or suspected terrorists” violates the American citizens’ constitutional entitlement to due process. CAIR also reached a settlement with the Alaska Department of Corrections to provide religious accommodations for Muslims incarcerated in the state.
In another twist of irony, according to his own trial testimony, Guandolo’s accusation that Stanek worked with “jihadis” was partially due to Stanek ensuring female Muslims were able to exercise their First Amendment rights and wear hijabs while incarcerated.
Allen Adkins is one of the attorneys on Guandolo’s defense team. During his cross-examination of the plaintiff’s medical expert, perhaps in a Freudian slip, Adkins asked, “Isn’t it true that some people are just born genetically superior?”
On September 20, the Dallas County jury presiding over the case answered a resounding “no,” encapsulated in a verdict against Guandolo for $600,000.
While Guandolo’s verdict is a hopeful sign, it will take much more than $600,000 and a civil assault trial against one person to combat the white supremacist ideology that has infiltrated law enforcement agencies across the U.S.